October 6, 2013

Multi-Genre Author Sarah J. McNeal Shares Her Fun-Filled State

My name is Sarah J. McNeal, the author of paranormal, time travel and historical romance, and the beautiful, fun-filled state of North Carolina is my home. My family moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania when I was five years old.  Except for a few excursions to other states when I became an adult, I have lived in Charlotte, North Carolina most of my life.  Because I live on the border of South Carolina, I have rapid access to that state’s wonderful places, too, like Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Charleston.  But my favorite places are in the great state of North Carolina. 
After living in other states like Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Pennsylvania, I have found the place I feel is my real home where my spirit is happy and peace surrounds me. In the west, I can visit the beautiful Smoky Mountains or travel the Blue Ridge Parkway which is stunning in its vistas of fall foliage. The Piedmont where Charlotte is located and the Capital, Raleigh, just to the north, offer cultural opportunities in all the arts as well as the excitement of  sports such as the  Charlotte Speedway, Panthers football, Bobcats basketball and the State Fair. Okay, then there is the fun of Carowinds, too.   To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, plenty of beaches, the port town of Wilmington and, to the northwest, lie the Outer Banks. Living here practically on the center, I can visit any of these locations in a few hours.
When I think of North Carolina, I immediately think in color; red clay, green foliage and huge oaks, and Carolina blue skies. To me, there is no more beautiful place on Earth.
I feel so comfortable listening to a smooth, southern drawl and the food is outrageously delicious. I wouldn’t want to miss the tasty pork barbeque that is annually sold at schools and firehouses. A look-see at some handsome firemen is a lovely bonus. Just sayin’. Just down the street from my house is a beautiful firehouse on Commonwealth Road that looks like an old south plantation and is an historical site.
Although, North Carolina does have all four seasons, winter is usually mild with just a couple snow or ice days. The mountains have a more severe winter with plenty of snow—and that’s a good thing since skiing is a big winter sport in places like Sugar Mountain.  The Appalachian   Mountains have an average temperature in July of 50 degrees F while the rest of the state averages a subtropical 90 degrees F. Winter in Wilmington averages a high of 56 F and low of 36 F during the coldest month of January. With good averages of rainfall, North Carolina is a bountiful agricultural state. There are those nasty hurricanes that visit us from time to time and sometimes they can be devastating. Coastal natives handle hurricanes well and rebound in ways that I can only admire. When hurricanes occasionally move inland, well, then there is trouble, but those instances are rare.
If I could, I would prattle on and on about my beloved state of North Carolina, but let me just end with a little bit about some of my favorite haunts. At the end of my blog are some tags to check out more information on some of these interesting locations. 
Asheville is the famous home to the beautiful castle, Biltmore House.  I’ve seen it several times including way back in the early seventies when they had just begun to open their doors to the public.  It is still a home, occupied by descendants of the   Vanderbilts who built it.

That’s not the only thing there is to see in Asheville.  It is a highly respected art center as well.
Blowing Rock is a wonderful little resort town when I used to go with my husband frequently.  We had to make the yearly pilgrimage there to get out pumpkin for Halloween, load up on apple cider and shop. There is a trout fishing derby every year, too as well as many art festivals and other activities. The Blowing Rock Trout Derby is now in its 33st year.  The Trout Derby is on April 6-7, 2013.

The annual gathering of the clans at Grandfather Mountain is not to be missed, especially if you have Celtic heritage.  Bagpipe and chanter contests as well as highland dancing are major entertainments and the food is wonderful. Next year’s Highland Games: The 55th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be held July 11-14, 2013 at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC. 
The Raleigh Fair is like a big deal in these parts.  Even though every county has its turn at a fair, the Raleigh Fair is the king of all fairs.

The Outer Banks are a must see.  The wild pony round up and the ferry cannot be missed.  There is even a lighthouse tour that can be so much fun.

Of all the places in North Carolina, my number one top place to visit is Wilmington.  Connected to the mainland by a drawbridge, Wilmington gives the feeling of a town that never grew into the twenty-first century.  The well preserved Cotton Exchange, is not only an historical building where cotton was bought and sold back in the day, but it now houses wonderfully diverse shops from a book shop to an art boutique.  Within walking distance is Chandler’s Warf for shopping and dining.  You can even take a boat ride on the Cape Fear River and enjoy a river tour while you   have lemonade and cookies.  The River Front also contains interesting and novel shops along with out-of-this-world restaurants like the River Front CafĂ© and the White Pizza Restaurant. And if all of this is not enough to get your attention, Wilmington also has the annual Azalea Festival in its Historic District around Market Street that is beautiful beyond compare.

Last, but certainly not least, is Charlotte where I live.  Although now the second largest banking center in the United States, Charlotte is also a diverse cultural center.  It’s the home of Dale Earnhart Museum, The Motor Speedway, the Panthers football team as well as the Bobcats basketball team, Carowinds Amusement Park, A Whitewater center, Historical sites such as the Latta Plantation and Hezekia Alexander Home, Spirit Square Art Center, Discovery Place and many more attractions. What I love about it is the huge oak trees that majestically line the streets in historic areas like Myers Park.

 You can find me at the following places on the internet:
Fantasy and Dreams Blog:  http://www.sarahmcneal.blogspot.com/
My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahmcneal
Provocative Ponderingshttp://pasttheprint.blogspot.com/
Sweethearts of the West: http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/
(pictures provided by author)


Sarah J. McNeal said...

Thank you for allowing me to yak on and on about North Carolina. I love my home.

Celia Yeary said...

Sarah--the love you have for your state really shines through. It's wonderful to love the place you live and can tout its wonders and advantages.
I've been in NC once, and that was a big detour from Central Texas to Ann Arbor, MI. I wanted to visit Asheville and the Biltmore. Finally, one year, we made the decision to tackle all the extra driving.
To say I loved the Biltmore doesn't adequately describe my true feelings. We were first in the door that morning, and everyone behind us for two hours passed us. My dh became weary of the whole thing and made his way to the front door, and out to sit in the patio where he had some coffee and could people watch. I stayed in there all morning, read everything, listened to every word.

I've been asked in interviews, if you could live anyplace you wanted, where would that be? My answer is always--North Carolina. True story.

We've driven on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and loved it. But the driver doesn't get to see as much.
Just gorgeous.
Thanks for the wonderful "trip" to your home state.

Karen H in NC said...

Enjoyed reading your NC travelog today. NC is my adopted state too but I am a more recent transplant, moving here in 1999. I live in the Raleigh area. I've visited some of the places you talk about, but not all and it's been years since I drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In fact, the entire length wasn't even finished when last I drove the parkway. Really need to do something about that. When I decided to move here from Michigan after retiring from the phone company, I chose this state because it was still close to Michigan but the winter weather was so much better than up north. I chose to live in Raleigh because it is not so prone to see hurricanes. That said, there was a hurricane that moved through the center of the state just brushing Raleigh with the outer bands of wind & rain. I think it was in 2003. That was taste enough for me. But, I love it here and plan to stay for a while longer!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Celia, too bad I can't write westerns in NC. LOL Texas has a different kind of beauty from NC. It's mostly wide open spaces and stars that look close enough to touch them.
Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. I really appreciate all your support.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Karen, you missed the 2 hurricanes that swept through Raleigh some years back (Fran and Beula I think they were named). My sister lived in Raleigh at the time and she said it was really bad. Trees fell everywhere, the streets looked like rivers and the power went out for quite a while. It's rare for hurricanes to come inland that far though, but the possiblility is always there.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed right now because of the government stall-out, What a shame since this is the best time of year to visit.
A belated welcome to North Carolina, Karen. And thank you so much for coming by and commenting.

Ciara Gold said...

Hey Sarah, it's been a while since I traveled through your fair state, but I remember how pretty it was. I'd love to go back.

Lyn Horner said...

Sarah, thanks for sharing your pictures! I visited your beautiful state several times when my daughter was attending grad school at East Carolina University in Greenville. The scenery, especially the lush foliage was spectacular. I would dearly love to go back, especially during those Highland Games.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Sarah, I remember loving NC too, when we went out there to visit my sister and her then-husband. He was stationed in Cherry Point as a marine, and we went out the summer I was 11 to visit. We went crabbing at Morehead Island--think that was the name of it. My sis was pg so we couldn't do a lot out in the heat, but it was a fantastic trip. Next time we go to WV, I might just talk my hubby into making a swing down south to visit your state for a day or two! Really enjoyed your post.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Ciara, yes, North Carolina is pretty and, believe it or not, it has its own kind of fragrance. When we used to come home from visiting relatives in Pennsylvania (another pretty place in my dad's hometown), I could smell the difference in the earth when we got to North Carolina. Maybe it's the red clay. I don't know, but it really smelled different--and I knew I was truly home.
Thank you so much for coming and leaving a comment.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Hey Lyn. After I lived in Nebraska for a year, and then later, when my husband and I came back home from Texas, I had that experience, too. Suddenly, I was in a sea of green.

Thank you so much for coming by.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Cheryl, I am so lucky to live in Charlotte because it's close enough to the mountains and the ocean that I can make a day trip to either place. It's called Moorehead City. If you do come through NC on your way to WV, you really should see Wilmington and the Cotton Exchange and the historic district. It's a beautiful town caught in time. And I hope you come by to see me, too.
Thank you so much for coming by and commenting, my friend.

Susan Whitfield said...

Nice to meet you, Sarah. I'm multi-genre, too. I've lived in North Carolina all my life and I love it as much as you do. All of my books,mysteries and women's fiction, are set in the state. I'll have to check out your books. Thanks for the blog, Annette.

skystne said...

Hey neighbor! A big "hi" from your neighbor slightly to the north in Lexington, home of the Barbecue Festival coming up on October 26th. Nice to meet you Sarah.

Kathy Lawrence

Jacqueline Seewald said...

A wonderful post, Sarah. I very much enjoyed your article on your home state. You've made me want to visit!
Wishing you much success with your novels.

jrlindermuth said...

Nice tour of your state, Sarah. I've visited the Outer Banks and the mountains and passed through the middle en route further south.

Val Pearson said...

Loved hearing about North Carolina. I used to be a Carolina girl myself, only SC is where I called home. I love your books and admire you as an author. Here's to much success in your writing career!


Margaret Carter said...

My grandmother and my stepmother came from North Carolina (tidewater region). Do you have Sharyn McCrumb's new historical novel, KING'S MOUNTAIN? It's about a pivotal Revolutionary War battle on the border of the Carolinas.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Susan, I think it's wonderful that you use NC as a backdrop for your books. I write westerns about Wyoming and paranormals that take place in another world called Winatuke (although I do have some characters who live in Wilmington, NC and travel to Winatuke). I'd love to write more with NC as a backdrop.
You can find out more about my books at my website: http://www.sarahmcneal.com
Thank you so much for commenting.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Kathy, hey, I love barbeque--the vinegar based kind we get here in NC. Dang, you've made me hungry. LOL
Thank you so much for coming by and it's good to meet a neighbor.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Jacqueline, it's very nice to meet you. I hope you do come to NC for a visit. I promise; it's a wonderful place.
Thank you so much for coming by.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

jrlindermuth, I'd say you really got to see a lot of NC. Next time though, I hope you get the chance to stay a while. The Outer Banks are beautiful. Nothing like an ocean breeze and the sound of waves lapping against the shore to calm the nerves.
Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by and comment.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Val, thank you for all your compliments. Since Charlotte sits just about the South Carolina line, I've seen a lot of south Carolina. Most people think of Myrtle Beach when they think of South Carolina or Charleston, but I like Columbia and the wonderful zoo there.
Thank you for coming by. I really appreciate it.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Hey Margaret, thank you for that book title and author. I wrote it down so I can remember to check it out. I enjoy reading about the American Revolution and especially if it involves a place near home. I've been to King's Mountain a zillion times so it would be so nice to read about the battle that took place there--Cornwallis led the British at King's Mountain I believe. Ashamed to say, I don't remember who led the Colonials.
Thank you for commenting and telling me about that book.

Fran Orenstein said...

I enjoyed your blog of NC. I've driven the Blue Ridge Skyway and spent a week in the mountains near Asheville. There are some very beautiful parts of the state and I've driven through many of them. And yes, the barbeque is outstanding.

margaret blake said...

I would love to visit North and South Carolina, your blog just confirms I must do this. I did not know much about Wilmington though but you make is sound like my kind of place.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Fran, it really is beautiful in the the mountains. I hope sometime you can come back to NC and visit the shore, too. I'm so happy you came and commented.
all the best to your corner of the universe.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Margaret B., I really do hope you take some time and come for a visit. Wilmington, NC is my favorite place on earth. I can drop all my cares when I go there.
Thank you so much for coming and leaving a comment.